People in Utah's rural areas might seem less likely to abuse drugs than those in New York City or Miami, but, according to a new study, there is little difference - - although their drugs of choice may be different.
A U.S. General Accounting Office report released Thursday said it finds no significant difference in the amount of drug abuse between cities and rural areas.However, it noted that most press attention and money from Congress has been focused on the drug war in such large cities as New York; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; Miami; and Houston, and the U.S.-Mexico border.
The five senators who ordered the study - David Pryor, D-Ark.; Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Dale Bumpers, D-Ark.; and Kent Conrad, D-N.D. - say it shows the nation must put more resources into rural areas and asked drug czar William Bennett to incorporate that in future plans.
The GAO examined numerous scientic surveys and studies of drug use in various states, interviewed local officials and used unpublished data from the FBI to determine different rates of substance abuse in city and rural areas.
Some of its findings are: - Alcohol abuse is roughly the same in both city and rural regions - and is the drug most often abused in both areas.
- Use of some drugs such as cocaine is lower in rural areas than in cities.
- Abuse of other drugs such as inhalants is higher in rural areas.
- The differences balance so that the overall rate of drug abuse is about the same in cities and rural areas.
- Low population density in rural areas makes it difficult to economically offer drug programs.
The study also showed that Utah has a relatively high rate of arrests for drug- and alcohol-related crimes and for admission to treatment programs.
Utah ranked 11th in the number of alcohol-related arrests in 1988 - 16.16 per 1,000 residents. The national average was 12.14.
It ranked 24th among the states in arrests for other drug-related crimes - 3.04 per 1,000 residents. The national average was 4.8.
Utah ranked 16th in the admission rate of people to alcohol treatment programs - 6.8 per 1,000 people, compared with the national average of 5.11.
But it ranked only 33rd in the number of people admitted to treatment programs for other types of drugs - 1.33 per 1,000 residents, compared to the national average of 1.96.
The study also detailed drug-abuse arrests (involving other than alcohol) by type of drug and type of offense.
In Utah, 59 percent of such arrests were for marijuana, 27 percent for cocaine and opiates, 3 percent for synthetic narcotics and 11 percent for other drugs.
The study said 76 percent of those arrests were for illegal possession and 24 percent were for illegal sales.